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SimplyPats Portable Appliance Testing Software
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:10 pm
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Location: Cornwall
USB to Serial Converter Help

Which USB to Serial Converter should I use with SimplyPats?

At this current time we recommend using a USB to Serial Converter designed around the FTDI Chipset.

Note regarding Prolific chipsets… I have personally come across users that have successfully managed to download data using a USB to Serial Converter containing a Prolific chipset. Successful download from these converters seems to be hit or miss and largely reliant on particular Prolific Chipset model, model of USB to Serial Converter, Operating system and Driver Version.

Common issues after successful installation can be intermittent download of data, we often find that Prolific Chipset USB to Serial Converters have issues coping with larger amounts of test data being sent from the PAT Tester.

I already have a USB to Serial Converter, how do I know if it’s compatible?

The simple answer is plug it in, install the drivers, run SimplyPats, set the COM Port and Baud Rate if needed and try downloading from your PAT Tester.

If you receive a communication error, partial download or no download at all, double check the settings or try different drivers.

If you are still having download issues contact support, we can guide you though further options and troubleshooting procedures. If we can not get you downloading we may recommend that you consider purchasing one of our converters.

Would you recommend purchasing cables and/or a USB to Serial Converter through yourselves?

Yes, ultimately we would recommend that you purchase a USB to Serial Converter direct from us as our support team can then offer dedicated support for the devise.

Do I still need to use a Serial Download Cable as well, or can I just use the USB to Serial Converter to download data from my PAT Tester?

In most cases you will still need to use a compatible Serial Data Cable as well as the USB to Serial Converter when downloading data from your PAT Tester. Your PAT tester will normally be supplied with a compatible Serial Download Cable specific to your tester, however if in doubt we can supply these also. It may also be worth mentioning that we have provided the wiring arrangements for many of the Serial Download cables in the SimplyPats Help File.

Serial Cables are specific to PAT Tester or manufacturer. Just like USB to Serial Converters, Serial Cables look very similar but the wiring arrangements will often be very different. It is very important that the correct Serial Cable is used.

I do not want or I am unable to purchase a USB to Serial Converter (or Serial Data Cable if needed) through yourselves, can you still offer support?

Yes we can still offer support, but we can not guarantee that we will get you downloading data from your PAT Tester. All we can say is make sure that the company that you purchase it from can guarantee that it is compatible with both your PAT Tester and SimplyPats, and that they are able to offer support for the device if needed.

We will do our best to offer support with download issues regardless of where you purchase your USB to Serial Converter or Serial Data Cable from, however if download issues can not be resolved and if it is obvious that the cause of the problem lies with the cable solution you are using, we will recommend that you purchase cables from us.

If in doubt, do your homework first or contact us.

Are all USB to Serial Converters the same?

No, although they look the same and perform the same function, there may be differences between them;

Chipsets, FTDI and Prolific are among the more popular ones used, however we have also come across other chipsets. As mentioned above we recommend that you use a USB to Serial Converter that contains an FTDI Chipset and preferably one purchased from us if you require guaranteed support when troubleshooting download issues.

Drivers, this is the software that you need to install to get the device working, some drivers seem to be better than others and perform better or worse depending on driver version and operating system used.

Cable manufacturer, FTDI and Prolific are the Chipset manufacturers, cable or component manufacturers (such as Belkin for instance) will then make cables around the chosen Chipset. Manufacturers will sometimes add their own features, make changes and in some cases release their own version of drivers.

My USB to Serial Converter has no name or model number on it, how do I know if its one that you recommend or find out what chipset it is using?

The manufacturer or chipset type may be listed with the device in the Device manager under Ports (COM & LPT). Double clicking on the entry or looking under the driver information tab may also give you a clue, Prolific Converters may have the driver version listed as a PL number for instance.

Other than that, there is very little you can do unless you have the original packaging which will normally contain some information or the original CD that will almost certainly contain a manual and drivers.

Your USB to Serial Converters seem expensive, I can purchase one that looks the same for a fraction of the price, what’s the difference?

We research which USB to Serial Converters are best to use
We purchase USB to Serial Converters in bulk
We then hold that stock until sold
We spend time on the phone offering free support setting them up

All we will say is “you pay your money and take your chance”

I have installed my USB to Serial Converter and everything looks ok, but SimplyPats still won’t see the COM Port, will not download from the PAT Tester or returns an error when downloading, is there anything I can try before contacting SimplyPats Support?

Always make sure that you plug the USB to Serial Converter into the computer before running SimplyPats. Windows allocates a COM Port to the USB to Serial Converter when you plug it in, if you plug the USB to Serial Converter in after running SimplyPats the software will not pick up or know that the COM Port is there. SimplyPats runs a check for available COM Ports on start up.

The USB to Serial Converter is plugged in and the correct Drivers are installed.

The Drivers have installed successfully. You can check this by going to Device Manager and looking for the device under Ports Com and LPT. Make sure the device is listed and that there are no question marks or exclamation marks.

Check to see which COM Port the USB to Serial Converter has been allocated by Windows. You can check this by going to the Device Manager, the COM Port will be shown next to the device entry under Ports COM and LPT.

Check that the COM Port and Baud Rate are set correctly in SimplyPats (see above for more info on COM Ports). The Baud Rate in SimplyPats needs to be set to the same Baud Rate as the PAT Tester. If you are having download issues, start at the lowest Baud rate and work your way. Note… some SimplyPats and PAT Tester combinations offer auto configuration, this will mean that you do not need to set the COM Port or Baud Rate as they are automatically set at time of download.

Make sure you are using the correct Serial Download cable for the PAT Tester and make sure that it is firmly plugged in between the USB to Serial Converter and the PAT Tester (Never plug the USB to Serial Converter directly into the PAT Tester unless you are instructed to).

Unless stated otherwise always start the download procedure in SimplyPats (File > Download PAT or by pressing the Download PAT Icon). When you see the waiting for PAT Tester or Checking Ports screen, send the data from the PAT Tester.

Some PAT Testers have the option to send the data out in different formats, make sure that you have the correct download format on the PAT tester selected before downloading. Please see the SimplyPats Help file for specific information.

Certain Mobile Phone software or multifunction printers using the fax function can cause issues when downloading, if you have either of these installed, make sure that the software is configured correctly. We would recommend that you contact support for further information regarding external software compatibility issues unless you are confident enough to diagnose issues yourself.

From experience we know that you can disable the “Use Serial Port Connection” in certain Mobile Phone Software (look in the download manager or communication manager part of the software).

You may also be able to disable the software prior to download, however this does not always work.

Restarting the computer in Diagnostic Start-up Mode (if available) may also help diagnose possible software compatibility issues, however this should only be performed by an IT expert.


The information given here is correct at time of writing. If you have download issues and you are not IT literate or not confident in what you are doing please contact support for assistance.

As already mentioned, support for the latest and current version of SimplyPats software is currently offered free of charge. We also offer a minimum of 12 months free support for any hardware or consumables purchased direct from us.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:58 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:34 am
Posts: 1

I am having problems downloading from an Alphapat to a new laptop (Windows 7 Home Premium). This is a new installation of SimplyPATs 6 which was registered and activated today.

I am using a USB to Serial converter which does NOT work with the laptop using SimplPATs 6, but does work with a PC (Windows XP), using the same Alphapat but SimplyPATs 5.
The SimplyPATS 6 detects the Serial COM Port 3, "Connecting to PAT, Checking port 3", then "PAT tester not found."
On the Alphapat it scans then "Communication Error"

Could you please assist???


PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:38 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:47 pm
Posts: 117
Location: Cornwall
Please check but we assume that your USB-Serial Converter has a Prolific chip set as it is hard to acquire the correct FTDI chip set in Australia and New Zealand. While you’ve had it working fine with Windows XP the drivers and hardware will need to be Windows 7 compatible.

We have recently sent over a shipment of compatible USB-Serial converter cables to Metrotest which we can guarantee will work.


We suggest you contact them if you wish to purchase more locally or you can get one off our website but allow approximately a week for delivery.

I’ve sent you a PM so I can clarify a few points.


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